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The Colosseum

The ColosseumThe Colosseum of Rome is the elephant among the ruins of the old city. This stupendous structure is eliptical in form, measuring 615 feet through the longer diameter and 510 feet through the shorter, covering more than 5-1/2 acres of ground. In the height of its glory 87,000 spectators could he accommodated within its walls!

It is 156 feet high, but has no roof. The sailors of the imperial fleet used to stretch sail-cloth over it to exclude the burning rays of the sun. The arena is 279 feet by 174 feet. This building was begun in A.D. 72, and dedicated by Titus in A.D. 80. It was inaugurated by gladiatorial combats which lasted 100 days, during which time 5,000 wild animals were killed.

About one third of the building is still preserved, and presents a scene to the beholder of overawing magnificence and grandeur. When I walked into the Cathedral of Milan, I felt as if its elevated ceiling was about to lift me up, but, standing in the arena of this vast amphitheater, one feels as if its stupendous walls would crush him to the ground.

Close by the Colosseum is the Meta Sudans, and the Arch of Constantine which spans the Via Triumphalis and unites it with Via Sacra (the Sacred Way). This arch has three passages and is adorned with admirable sculptures. It was erected in 311, when Constantine declared himself in favor of Christianity.

Following the Sacred way, toward the north, we first come to the arch of Titus and afterwards to the Roman Forum.